Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Central Congregational Church Fire

The original Central Congregational Church at the end of Seaverns avenue burned in 1935. This photo comes from the BPL Flickr group. I've already posts about Central Congregational here and here.

Friday, September 9, 2011

Lost and Found: The Peter Parley Homestead

Abram French house, Parley Vale (BPL Flickr group).

Abram French estate, Centre street, 1874 (JP Historical Society).

I've written about Samuel Goodrich, AKA Peter Parley in the past here and here. Parley avenue, Parley vale, Peter Parley road and Goodrich road all honor the (once) famous 19th Century author and editor of children's books, politician and ambassador to France. His property, expanded over the years by many purchases, ran from Green street to somewhere between Parley avenue and Robinwood street, and from Centre street back to the railroad tracks. As the property was sold off in pieces, it has been impossible for me to determine the exact location of the original Goodrich house.

So now I know, if I can trust the caption of the above photo. The caption reads "Old Abraham French House, "Peter Parley's" old house, Parley Vale, Jamaica Plain," although the correct name is Abram French. Mr French owned a substantial crockery and glassware business on Franklin street in downtown Boston.

By the time French purchased the house and land, the estate, while still substantial for the district, was much smaller than the original Goodrich property. Green street extended back from Centre street to Washington street, and Chestnut avenue cut behind the property from Green to Boylston streets.

This house, then, would have received visits from Daniel Webster, Senator and one of the greatest orators of his time, and Nathaniel Hawthorne, whom Goodrich published before he was well known. We can imagine the carriages coming down Centre street from Boston carrying the great men of the day to visit the famous Peter Parley, and the politician Samuel Goodrich. Eventually, Goodrich went to Paris as the United States Consul to France, and would never return to live in Jamaica Plain. The estate has been divided many times, and the house is gone, but his carriage-way remains as Parley avenue. And if you walk in from Centre street to Parley Vale, the traffic of Centre street seems to disappear, and you might almost hear the carriages.